The Federal Court has fixed Jan 21 to rehear the archbishop of the Catholic church's application for leave to appeal the ban on the use of the term 'Allah' in its Bahasa Malaysia weekly, the Herald.
The matter came up for case management today before the Federal Court registrar.
Solicitor for the archbishop, S Selvarajah, confirmed the date in a text message to Malaysiakini. Senior federal counsel Andi Razalijaya A Dadi appeared for the Home Ministry and government while James Lopez appeared for the church.
It is not immediately indicated how many judges will sit in the hearing as the earlier judges who heard the application will automatically be disqualified
The Federal Court earlier this year dismissed the church's application for leave to appeal the case, in a narrow 4-3 majority decision.
Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria, who headed the seven-member bench, said in his written judgment that the ban was not based on theological aspects as it was considered as side comments.
The archbishop then filed anapplication on Aug 21 to review the Federal Court decision.
This was followed by the Catholic Church filing the grounds for the appeal, which listed three main grounds:
Certain legal issues which were central to the permission to appeal the application were not considered in the majority judgment. This includes the central question of the scope of Article 3 (Islam being the religion of the federation) and Article 11 (freedom of religion) as stipulated in the Federal Constitution and also the minister's decision to prohibit the use of the word 'Allah' in the Herald also took into account theological consideration, which were not supported;
The majority judgment also decided certain legal issues which were not argued nor raised before the Federal Court or the Court of Appeal and this included, for instance, the constitutional validity of Section 9 of the Anti-Propagation Enactment; and
The Herald's appeal is one of the most important constitutional cases to have come before Malaysian courts, especially involving minority rights over the use of the word 'Allah'.
The protracted legal row began when the High Court on Dec 31, 2009, ruled that the Home Ministry's ban on the use of the word by the Herald, which Borneo Christians say they have used for over a century, is unconstitutional.